11 wins in a row? Just tying a franchise record. No big deal. Third youngest and fifth fastest to 5,000 assists? Cool story, bro. Top rated team in Hollinger’s Power Ranking formula? Yawn. Currently best projected team to win the title? Just another day in Clipper Nation.
Recap | Box score
X Factor: Perimeter struggles. The Hornets shot 2-for-17 from behind the arc while their starting backcourt combined for more turnovers than points. Even the great Robin Lopez can’t save you when that happens.
MVP: Chris Paul. Against his former franchise, Paul recorded his 5,000th career assist before turning back the clock with a two-hand jam. Just like the streaking Clippers, CP3 is showing no signs of slowing down.
LVP: Austin Rivers. He was so close to a great moment in rookie futility. If Rivers didn’t score three points, he would have played 20 minutes without a single other positive stat registered.
–D.J. Foster, ClipperBlog
11 wins a row
This ties the Clippers longest winning streak since 1974-75, when the Clippers were the Braves and resided in Buffalo. I believe Kevin Arnovitz is the only writer from this site that was alive when the franchise last won 11 games.
Tweet of the Game
Dueling tweets for the night:
Funny stuff from Chris and Blake. CP said he didn’t know about 5k assist mark. Blake claimed CP told him he had “4,999” before the play.
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) December 20, 2012
Blake Griffin on Chris Paul’s dunk: “You saw how I had to help him down?”
— Kevin Arnovitz (@kevinarnovitz) December 20, 2012
Eric Bledsoe Per36 Stat o’ The Night
ClipperBlogLive’s Best Moment
On a nostalgic ClipperBlog Live, Jordan is given honorary facetime to opine about the good times with newly departed Charlie Widdoes. Heimer rambles for a bit about eating in the Big Easy and then reveals a close call with a rickshaw.
Check Your Messages
Humblebrag of the Night
Chris Paul on being the 5th fastest all-time to 5000 assists: “I didn’t have a clue. I get so locked in during the game, trying to figure out what defense we’re in or what play we need to call. I just heard everyone cheering and I asked Blake, “what happened?” It just means I’ve had great teammates. I did the easy part, other guys have made all the shots. It was pretty special and I’m glad I gave it to Blake in order to make it.”
That’s how it’s done. Even if it seems just a bit dubious that the league’s most controlling player had noooooo idea what was happening with the JumboTron announcing the milestone.
(By way of contrast – and to honor the Clips’ “franchise” record-tying eleventh straight win – here’s Bob McAdoo about the then Buffalo Braves rumored move to Florida after the 1976 season: “It doesn’t make any difference to me, as long as I can play and get paid for it.”)
– Jordan Heimer
An Intimate Vantage Point
I had the privilege of watching the game from nearly courtside tonight and I came away feeling exactly how I did before the game; very optimistic From such a close vantage point, I was exposed to the personalities of players we’ve come to know only remotely through our magic boxes.
One such example is Chris Paul never shutting up, communicating with both the officials and his teammates constantly. Even when he’s on the bench, he’s either engaging Chaucey Billups or Robert Pack (that is, if Chauncey is indisposed). After a truly one-sided string of calls, CP grew particularly animated in his discussions with a certain ruddy-faced, immature appearing referee while New Orleans was at the free throw line. After being told to walk away and quiet down, Chris Paul turned on his heel, walked right up to the official and made it clear that he was “the speaking captain.” All hail the point god.
The general perception of Matt Barnes was also confirmed. He does have a habit of instinctively directing his displeasure towards referees. This resulted tonight in a technical foul as he rocketed the ball to/at an official after a made basket. He also has a most natural ability to find open space. Whether he’s making the smart cut on offense, sneaking his way into the lane for a rebound or closing a gap in the defensive rotation, Matt Barnes is always making himself relevant.
Lastly, it’s hard to relay the collective excitement of Staples Center after a Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan dunk — and even moreso after either of them finish an alley-oop. What’s not difficult to explain is an opposing defense’s acute awareness of these athletic freaks. There was a measurable difference in the way New Orleans played the pick and roll before and after the Clippers paid their property taxes in Lob City. They became far more likely to collapse the lane around the restricted area, thus giving the Clippers more open opportunities in the midrange and uncontested layups resulting from guard penetration. The fear of appearing on Blake Griffin’s next poster seems to be one of the Clippers most potent offensive weapons.
– Michael Shagrin
Chris Paul on Premium Cable
Chris Paul was on the Jim Rome show today on Showtime. You should try to link to it. He’s so calculated and deliberate.
For copyright/legal reasons, we can’t link to that footage (also, I can’t find it). But this is definitely a “Check Your Messages” alert. – Andrew Han
Stop with the “Bledsoe can play 2” talk – Anonymous thread
Rod Strickland asked, in 2009, if Eric Bledsoe could play the 2: “If you’re able to handle the ball and beat your man, you’ll have opportunities on the court. If you want to call yourself a one, two, three, four, what have you, they’re all interchangeable parts.” Wise man, Rod Strickland.
– Jordan Heimer
Positions don’t actually exist. They’re just there to help a layman understand each player’s job better. But somehow over time, the people that should know better have fallen into the trick of pigeonholing.
– Fred Katz
Living in the moment
Something special is brewing on this ship. And while the “other” Los Angeles is dominating the headlines because of poor play, the Clippers are not so quietly establishing themselves as a juggernaut in the national media’s mind.
And yet we see nervous questions from fans, blogs, anyone really: Is Bledsoe going to be traded? Is Del Negro on the hot seat? What does he have to do to get an extension? Ironically, the looming question of whether Chris Paul is going to stay seems a foregone conclusion and moot at this point (everyone strongly hints that Paul will re-sign).
But these other anxious inquiries ultimately seem unknowable at this point. Who knows what rising stud Eric Bledsoe’s value is? It’s a mystery what has to happen to affect Del Negro’s job security, in either direction.
But we do know the Clippers are good. Really, painfully good. And fans no longer veil their hopes in jokes, “Haha. Clippers can win a ring.” Talking heads have adjusted the punctuation at the end of “Clippers are a serious title threat” from a question mark to a period. Forget about winning a championship, just having a title worthy team is so rare that we should embrace the moment, roll ourselves up in it, commit to memory every sight, sound and smell of this special season.
No team is perfect. And continued criticism isn’t “hating” but simply a reflection that perfection is an ever evolving goal. But this Clippers team — roster, coach and franchise — can only look inward for that strive to unattainability. And we should enjoy that process. It’s going to be fun.
– Andrew Han
Clips Eye New Horizon
How do we know when an upstart team crosses the threshold into contention? Is it as simple as trusting one’s eyes or the flavor profiles in the postgame spread or the beats underneath the tracks and the quality of one’s sleep, or are there dramatic moments or significant events that foretell that growth? When a squad makes that jump, does it take on a specific aura? And if so, how we identify that glow?
– Kevin Arnovitz for ESPN.com’s Daily Dime